Ben Loates

So you’re kind of a modern day renaissance man; an accomplished skateboarder, sales rep, music teacher, realtor, husband and a dad to 4 kids! How do you find the time to do it all?

Where do I even start? I knew at age 17 or 16 I was talented at a lot of stuff but didn’t know how to put hard work into it. As an adult, I felt there was an expectation to fit into how it’s been done before. Even being 18 years old, something in me said there’s something more. If it means I don’t get the nice car or white picket fence, so be it, I can’t settle. That kind of defined me from that point.

When I finished my teaching degree, the thought of being a school teacher for 30 years then retiring and dying didn’t work for me. I’ve been teaching music since I was 18. I love joy. I love the simple things in life that are so profound – when I skateboard, I feel joy; when I play music, I feel joy. The world told me you can only do one thing, but I actually love every single thing that I do. I can’t let one go.

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I’ve taught music for 13 years. Having those half-hour moments with kids doesn’t make me much money, but I had a moment with a student: his parents had just divorced and I cried with him for ten minutes and then I just got to encourage him.

The value of that single moment… how can you put a dollar value on that? You simply can’t. Essentially you grow in your capacity because you have to. I have this belief that we’re meant to just keep growing and progressing. I want to produce until the day I die and I don’t think there’s any reason I shouldn’t. I feel like this is a sentiment shared by many Spruce Grovers. I don’t exactly know what my deal is, but I’m doing it. I don’t have a definition for it but I’m in the process of working it out.

You recently organized the first ‘Park Crawl’ in Spruce Grove, tell us about that.

I was turning right into my crescent and had a series of thoughts that lasted two seconds and the progression looked like this: Saturday is coming up I want do something different with my kids. It’s so easy to get in to a rut, so I thought it would be fun to jump from park to park. We know eight families at least that would do that with us. Then I thought it would be cool to talk to Perks Coffeehouse and get some prizes because people would like that.

I wrote it all in my iPhone and I told my wife about it. Literally three months passed and Jenna said, “Why didn’t you follow through with that idea? You can’t steer a parked car.”

Her encouragement was “start driving the car”. I made a video and put it up, then I was mowing the lawn and 10 minutes later thought, “Holy crap – I can’t go back on this now.”

I never expected the response, it was fun! I believe we touched on something that has never been uncovered before in our community in an overwhelming way. A post about the park crawl received 25,000 views in a community of 33,000 in 36 hours.

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I believe 70 years from now we’ll look back at 2016 as having some of the most significant moments that define who we are as Spruce Grovers. It’s an honour that I got to tap into something. One of the terms that I think defines [Spruce Grove] is authenticity… What the world needs more of is ‘home,’ and, is authenticity. We know what it feels like to be home.

Introduce us to your family!

Item number 1 is the love of my life, Jenna. My partner for 10 years, she’s been with me through everything, even me making decisions that made me look really dumb. WE have a sweet life, to this day it’s still hard, but it’s sweet.

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Then there are my kids:

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Tallulah (7 years old), Petra (5 years old), Raphy (3 years old) and Aaro (1 year old).

When did you first jump on a skateboard?

Late, actually – 14 years old. There was something about the art form, the amount of work required, the risk and pain involved. To actually accomplish something takes so much work, but the euphoric feeling when you do is really something else.

I’m headed to China to compete as part of FISE and I’ll be skating with some of the biggest names out there, and I didn’t have to go to California to become that. The skate park here is all I needed to get to where I wanted to be. I’m the living example that anything is possible. I have all that possibility in Spruce Grove.

Where were your favourite places to skateboard in Spruce Grove?

The park! That’s it, that’s where I developed the world class ability. That’s what people need to know: you don’t have to sell out and go somewhere else, just be consistent and work hard for a really long time.

With your realtor hat on, what do you think makes Spruce Grove so special?  

The mature neighbourhoods for sure: Millgrove, Goebel drive (what a gem), Stoneshire (where I live).

What does a typical day look like in the Loates household?

We wake up, but the kids have a rule – they can’t come into our bedroom until 7:00 am. If they see the clock and there’s a 6, they can’t come in. When the clock hits 7:00 am, all the kids come in and snuggle, and we have a queen bed so that’s pretty tight. Then I get up and make eggs, get the girls off to school. From there I have an idea of what my day entails, but it’s different everyday. Jenna commandeers the home and makes it function in the most amazing way. I’m in and out throughout the day, 12 times sometimes. We’ve done the self-employed life as long as we’ve known each other and we’ve learned the flow. The kids come home after school and there’s usually some activity happening every evening, then we get the kids to bed and fall asleep watching a show.

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What did you learn from growing up in Spruce Grove that you want to share with your kids?  

I want my kids to know that they may have different skills, abilities and gifts, but they are not better than anyone. They’re amazing human beings, but so is everyone else.

Growing up in Spruce Grove, everything you need is right here and will always be here. You can go figure out what the rest of the world looks like, if you need to, and, you can always come back, because home will always be here and you’ll have everything you need.

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